DTE pilot program buries power lines to increase resilience

DETROIT, Mich. (FOX 2) - DTE crews are excavating deep holes in several Metro Detroit neighborhoods, strategically installing power lines underground as a part of a pilot program that seeks to reduce power outages.

At the Detroit’s Buffalo Charles neighborhood, near the Hamtramck border, "is the installation of the underground conduit that we’re going to be pulling our underground wires and cables into – as part of our initiative to upgrade both the gas services in this area, and to underground the services for the customers that live in this neighborhood," said Morgan Elliott-Andahazy, a DTE project development manager.

Elliott-Andahazy is overseeing the installation of five miles of wire and said this is a first.

"What’s really cool about this particular location is that this is the first time that both DTE gas and DTE electric are under grounding our equipment at the same time, in the same neighborhood," she added.

After severe weather-related incidents, DTE often receives numerous complaints from customers due to extended power outages that sometimes last for days.

To make DTE's power more reliable, the company is moving towards installing more power lines underground.

"We actually have about a third of our system that is currently underground as we’ve built our system out over the past few decades," Elliott-Andahazy said. "What we’re doing right now is trying to figure out how can we continue to underground our existing infrastructure, and do it in the most cost-efficient manner, so that we can improve reliability to our customers faster."

According to DTE, the installation should be complete by 2024. The company will then study the pilot and expand from there.